Spoiler Alert! This is not a humour column. This is something very real that is happening everywhere in the world, and our little town is trying to get some attention paid to the problem of domestic abuse. This column was published today, September 25, 2008.
I’m looking at a list of names. It’s not a very long list, and I know that to 10 different men, these names mean absolutely nothing; it’s a list of finished business.
But to many, many others, this list represents everything. It represents loss, anger, violence, and serious UN-finished business.
This list was held by my friend Krista last night. She held the stark white piece of paper in her hands and I read over her shoulder. Ten names.
But there are so many more. So many more that aren’t on that list.
And that’s just wrong. Wrong that there should be more names, wrong that the list exists in the first place.
Krista’s name was called as we stood behind the town hall on Monday night. She weaved her way through the crowd to a make-shift podium so she could read her list of names.
As she read one name after the other, women stepped forward and took one flower. One flower to represent a life that was taken violently. Candles were lit as the names were read. Just a small flame to symbolize so much.
Ten flowers, one by one, are dropped into the Mississippi River, a symbol of travel, a symbol of letting go.
But the problem is not one of us will let go.
In fact, we were so hell-bent on NOT letting go that we marched down Bridge Street to let anyone know that was within hearing distance:
“Yes mean yes, no means no, however we dress, wherever we go!”
Take Back the Night was in full effect on Monday the 22nd. Krista’s list held 10 names of Lanark County women who lost their lives because of violent partners.
And that absolutely sickens me. Especially because that’s not the end of it. There will always be more names.
I will never understand how some people are wired. How some men can look at a person that they’ve sworn to love, honour and cherish and see something they hate enough to completely destroy a soul, spirit and life. Just like the 10 names on Krista’s list.
Gone forever, because a man that these women loved thought their lives weren’t worth the oxygen they were breathing.
I walked to the water’s edge to watch the flowers that had been so lovingly and sadly dropped into the Mississippi.
The flowers were beautiful, no doubt very much like the lives those petals symbolized. The floated in a long line, one after the other, towards the small, rocky fall to the lower part of the river.
Everyone else had returned to the grass to listen to the speakers talk about how there is no justice for violence against women .
I watched as the flowers floated towards that rocky wall and stopped. They all crowded together under a clematis vine, seeming to hide from the rockiness of the falls before them. Afraid. Hiding. As if the flowers weren’t sure what lie ahead of them at the bottom of that three-foot drop.
How symbolic. But really, a flower is in no way enough to symbolize what happened to these women, what continues to happen in Lanark County as the rest of us go on with our lives.
Women and children are being victimized. Beaten. Killed. All by domestic partners. By men they trust, trusted, loved even.
So we marched down Bridge Street to say it’s NOT okay. Its’ NOT okay to take a life, no matter what. But it’s especially NOT okay to be a man that thinks he is the rule maker and the life taker.
It’s NOT OKAY. The two recent attacks in Carleton Place. Not acceptable.
Wake up Lanark County. Open your ears, open your eyes. The Interval House, a shelter for abused, scared and victimized women and children is FULL. And worse still? It’s full year-round.
Seven hundred women and children are served at the Interval House each year. Seven hundred in Lanark County.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not okay with that. WAKE UP, Lanark County. Lets put a stop to domestic violence.
Stand up, raise your voice. Protect who you can, let your voice be heard. LOOK at the people around you. Let’s protect each other.
Because. Abuse, fear and intimidation ARE. NOT. Okay.